A job description for wide receiver at The Citadel might read like this:
"1. Block. 2. Block. 3. Block some more. 4. Catch an occasional pass. 5. Get back to blocking."
Needless to say, it takes a lot of patience to play receiver in the Bulldogs' triple-option offense. The Bulldogs three only 12.7 passes per game last season, and might not throw it that much this season under new coach Mike Houston. Citadel receivers have to take pride in much more than their pass-catching skills.
"That's the message from the entire offensive staff, from (coordinator) Brent Thompson on down," said receivers coach J.P Gunter, one of the holdovers from former coach Kevin Higgins' staff. "Coach Thompson has proven at Lenoir-Rhyne that he is going to take advantage of the big play when it comes. What we know is that the run game will set it up, so we have to take pride in 100 percent of the plays, not just when the ball's in the air."
Gunter's group appears physically suited, at the least, for the rigors of blocking in the triple-option.
The unit includes an imposing quartet from Wando High School (Alex Glover, 6-3, 235; Rudder Brown, 6-4, 215; Brandon Eakins, 6-2, 195; and Taylor Kimball, 6-2, 215) as well as sophomore Jorian Jordan (6-0, 165) and sophomore DeAndre Schoultz (5-9, 185), who was moved over from slotback during the preseason.
"We're more of an integral part of the run game now than we have been," Gunter said. "We don't feel like we're out there on an island so much. We're getting to be a part of the run game quite a bit and our guys have really embraced that role."
Glover has moved from tight end to wide receiver, but can still line up next to the tackle when needed, Gunter said.
"He really adds another dynamic as a larger body out on the edge for us," he said. "We like to be able to move from a tight-end set to no tight ends without tipping anything off personnel wise."
Jordan and Eakins are the top returning pass-catches among the receivers, each with nine catches a year ago. Eakins, who reportedly runs a sub 4.4 time in the 40, could be poised for a breakout season.
"A guy his size who can run as well as he can ... his jumping numbers are almost out of the gym," Gunter said. "He can really stretch the field vertically and has done a great job in the run game. He can really suck people in to support the run, and then take the thing vertical."
Hitting more big plays this season will be vital for the Bulldogs, who scored only five touchdowns via the pass last season (three of them by slotback Jake Stenson). Last season at Lenoir-Rhyne, Thompson's offense had 10 touchdown passes in 15 games, and the Bears averaged 18.6 yards per completion (compared with The Citadel's 12.8).
"In this offense, you've got to take advantage of the big-play opportunity when it presents itself," Gunter said. "In camp, that's where we've done a much better job than in previous seasons. We've taken advantage of those big-play opportunities, and we've got to take that into the season."
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